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SFMO: New Incentives Available for Commercial Fire Sprinkler Installations

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 | 08:42am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) is sharing news that recently passed national tax reform legislation championed by the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) includes several provisions which will provide significant incentives for property owners who install fire sprinklers.

The bipartisan legislation was first filed following the Station Nightclub fire in Rhode Island that claimed 100 lives in 2003; a tragedy that likely could have been prevented had the building featured a fire sprinkler system to reduce the heat, flames, and smoke that hindered the occupants’ escape.

Highlights of the fire and life safety provisions featured in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act include:

  • Small businesses will now be able to fully expense installation of fire sprinklers under section 179 of the tax code up to a cap of $1 million in each year of expense. This will allow for the retrofit and upgrading of numerous occupancies such as nightclubs. In addition, small businesses that may need to borrow money to pay for the retrofit will be able to fully deduct the interest expense on the loan.
  • Larger entities can fully expense capital expenses over the next five years. Starting in 2023, the amount that can be expensed will slowly taper down. This part of the provision means that fire chiefs and local policy officials can now ensure business owners have five years for full expensing, which NFSA believes will provide the opportunity for many high-rise and other high-risk occupancy buildings to improve their fire safety features.

More detailed information about these fire sprinkler incentives can be found on the NFSA website.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds consumers that fire sprinklers are the best way to successfully protect property and lives from fire – whether in a commercial building or in your own home.

“We want people to realize that the life-saving technology of a fire sprinkler system is also available for homes, where roughly 80 percent of all civilian fire deaths occur,” said Gary West, Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance. “We encourage Tennesseans to equip their homes with a complete fire protection package that includes fire sprinklers and smoke alarms.”                                                       

To dispel the myths that may surround fire sprinklers, the SFMO shares the following facts from National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) about this life-saving equipment:

  • Cigarette or cigar smoke or burnt toast will not activate a fire sprinkler. Only the high temperature of a fire will activate the sprinkler.
  • Home fire sprinklers activate on an individual basis. Only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate, spraying water on the fire and not the rest of the home.
  • Home fire sprinklers can control and may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive on the scene.
  • Fire departments typically use roughly 10 times as much water as a fire sprinkler would use to contain a fire. 
  • Accidental sprinkler discharges are rare. Leaks of home fire sprinklers are no more likely than leaks from a home’s plumbing system.
  • In a home with sprinklers, the average property loss per fire is cut by about 70% (compared to fires where sprinklers are not present.)
  • The cost of installing home fire sprinklers averages $1.35 per sprinklered square foot, an amount often less than what is spent for carpet upgrades, paving stone driveway or a whirlpool bath.
  • A home fire sprinkler system can reduce the homeowner’s insurance premium.
  • Home fire sprinklers are effective in cold and warm climates. Guidelines have been created for the proper installation of systems to avoid pipes freezing. A home fire sprinkler system should be winterized the same as you winterize a domestic water supply.
  • A home fire sprinkler system is easy to maintain. Just inspect your home to make sure the sprinklers are not blocked by something that would prevent the water from coming out such as paint and be sure the main control valve is never turned off.
  • Home fire sprinklers can be installed in new or existing homes. If you are building, buying, or remodeling a home, install a home fire sprinkler system. If you are looking to rent an apartment or condo, look for one that is fully sprinklered.
  • New home fire sprinkler models are very unobtrusive, can be mounted flush with walls or ceilings, and can be concealed behind decorative covers.
  • Fire sprinklers also help protect your pets from fire. If a fire were to break out in your home when you were away, any pets in your home would be in danger. Fire sprinklers would help protect your pets as well as your home.

For more information about home fire sprinklers, visit http://www.nfsa.org.